IT IS easy to forget The Flaming Lips have been a going concern for 35 years, but this vast, 52 track, three-disc collection, reminds you, not only of their longevity, but their evolution over that time, and their achievement.
Before becoming the exponents of refined, melodic, utterly modern psychedelic alternative/indie-rock, came a long apprenticeship of fascinatingly rough and ramshackle garage-rock psych, with a pop edge lurking under the surface. 'She Don't Use Jelly' (1993 ) finally indicated that yes, things were beginning to shape up nicely. After that, the high watermark era of The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, and At War With The Mystics, and such magnificent songs as 'Race For The Prize', 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song', 'Do You Realise?', 'The W.A.N.D', and 'Vein Of Stars'.
The B-sides and unreleased tracks included here are worth investigating, with three in particular standing out. 'Jets Cupids Kiss Vs. The Psyche of Death' reveals an unexpected Neil Young influence; a solo piano version of 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song' reconfigures it from its poptastic, questioning spirit, turning it into a somber lament for the darker sides of the human condition.
Possibly most surprising is how it closes - Wayne Coyne alone with a piano, delivering a vulnerable, yearning, 'Silent Night/Lord, Can You Hear Me'. For a band that has been the soundtrack for secular bohemians everywhere, this is (literally/metaphorically ) the last thing you expect, but then the Lips have never preached dogma or certainty, forever suspicious of absolutes - in this day and age, that is no bad thing.
The Flaming Lips play the Big Top in the Fisheries Field on Thursday July 26 at 7pm as part of the Galway International Arts Festival 2018. For tickets see www.giaf.ie